Improving our Approach to Improvement
well-being and happiness are tied to the notion that our lives can
improve. We hope for a better future for our company, our kids, and
ourselves. We dream of a tomorrow that's better and brighter than today.
Here are a few improvements many of us desire to see:
• We hope to lose weight and improve our fitness
• We hope to earn more money and improve our financial standing
• We hope to argue less with our spouse and improve our marriage
the next year, if we knew our health would deteriorate, our economic
situation would worsen, and our closest relationships would unravel,
then we'd be depressed. In fact, even if we knew our lives would stay
the same, most of us would feel unsatisfied. We're always looking to
improve the quality of our lives - it's human nature.
many of us never go beyond hoping for improvements to actually making
them. I'd like to share some insights to help you improvise your
approach to improvement.
secret of your success is determined by your daily agenda. Leaders who
make successful improvements share a common denominator: they form
habits of daily action that those who fail to improve never develop. As
my friend Andy Stanley says, "Your direction determines your
destination." The steps you make each day, for good or ill, eventually
chart the path of your life.
Consider the analogy of
saving for retirement. Financial advisers counsel us to invest for
retirement early in our careers and consistently throughout life. If we
do, we can quit working at 65 with a sizeable nest egg. However, if we
neglect funding our 401(k) each month, then we end up with nothing. We
may still "hope" to win the lottery and secure our financial future, but
we've lost the ability to control our fate.
live in the ultimate quick-fix culture. Everyone wants to be thin, but
few people eat healthy and exercise. Everyone wants financial stability,
but many refuse to be bothered by a budget. Rather than trouble
ourselves with discipline, we opt for diet fads or speculate in the
stock market. When we don't see long-term improvements, we discard one
fad in favor of another.
In life, there are two kinds of
pain: the pain of self-discipline and the pain of regret. The pain of
self-discipline involves sacrifice, sweat, and delayed gratification.
Thankfully, the reward of improvement softens the pain of
self-discipline and makes it worthwhile. The pain of regret begins as a
missed opportunity and ends up as squandered talent and an unfulfilled
life. Once the pain of regret sets in, there's nothing you can do other
than wonder, "What if?"
trying to improve, we not only risk failure, we guarantee it. The good
news is that mistakes generally teach us far more than success. There's
no sense pretending we're perfect. Even the best of the best have
moments of weakness. That's why it's important to be honest when we fall
short, learn from the mistake, and move forward with the knowledge
cannot manage what you cannot measure. Identify the areas in which
improvement is essential to your success and find a way to track your
progress. Keeping score holds you accountable and gives you a clear
indicator of whether or not you're actually improving.
change is essential for improvement. One of the great paradoxes of
success is that the skills and qualities that get you to the top are
seldom the ones that keep you there. The quest to improve forces us to
abandon assumptions, embrace innovation, and seek new relationships. If
we're complacent for too long, we'll fall behind the learning curve.
Once this happens, it's a steep, uphill climb to get back to the top.
desire for improvement has a degree of discontent in it. Personal
growth requires apparently contradictory mindsets: humility to realize
you have room to grow but also confidence that improvement is possible.
Tips for Attaining Improvement
1. Develop Habits
2. Befriend Discipline
3. Admit Mistakes
4. Measure Progress
5. Change Continually